Finding Dory sees everyone’s favorite fish back in the long awaited sequel to one of Disney Pixar’s greatest search and rescue stories, Finding Nemo.
It’s time for another journey to find lost loved ones, and this time it’s on Dory’s (Ellen DeGeneres) side of the reef. Accompanied by her old partner in travel Marlin (Albert Brooks) and his titular son from the first installment, Nemo, Dory sets off to find her parents, whom she remembers briefly for the first time. Worried she may forget them as quickly as they popped into her head, Dory and her two clown fish sidekicks are off on another adventure faster than a 150-year-old sea turtle.
Finding Dory does an excellent job of bringing the classic film to a new generation. First-film favorites Mr. Ray and the dentist’s tank crew make appearances, but aren’t the center of attention. That spot is reserved for the blue tang herself and the troupe of misfit creatures she gathers on her perilous journey to find the family she lost long ago.
Befriended by a clever octopus (Ed O’Neill), near-sighted whale shark (Kaitlin Olson) and a slew of others, Dory is short of memory but never alone in her travels.
Expect to have a few more heartstrings pulled as compared to Finding Nemo. Instead of opening with a death in the family, we are introduced to Dory as an infant, big-eyed and curious of the world around her. Her adorable, high-pitched voice stutters as she introduces the film’s most powerful theme.
Finding Dory’s plot relies heavily on Dory’s short term memory loss, even more than the first installment. Each time her disability is reinforced, by her either remembering that she forgot, or being told by someone else, it’s hard to predict how she will react and move forward.
Where Marlin counter-acted Dory’s unpredictable nature in Finding Nemo, even he finds himself saying “what would Dory do?” half way through. Although she probably has forgotten more than she will ever remember, her flashbacks offer a glimpse into her childhood and clues to finding her parents.
Beside the amazing animation and water rendering that has been improved in the last 12 twelve years, the voice acting was phenomenal. An untrained ear would not recognize DeGeneres’ voice in a stellar performance showing her range. Brooks returns as Marlin to remain the muted voice of reason and O’Neill’s rendition of a seven armed octopus with a troubled past provides a bit more maturity, but not too much.
Once the credits roll, (which, by the way, you should sit through, Marvel-style) the similarities seem to outweigh the differences between the two films. But that is not something to dwell on. Finding Dory is one of Disney’s great tales of making amends with your shortcomings and relying on friends and family when you need to.
All considered, the sequel could even stand alone with a little more story to start. 12 years of waiting culminated wonderfully in the form of a forgetful fish, her faithful friends and her quest to find not only her parents, but herself. Ironically enough, Finding Dory is less so a physical search for the blue tang but an emotional journey into Dory’s hazy past.